Cannings has started stocking not one but two(!) fermented cabbage products. Hailing from different sides of the globe – Kimchi (originally from Korea) and Saurkraut (originally from Germany) are surprisingly similar and are both made possible by the unique natural characteristics of cabbage. Cabbage gets a bit of a bad rap and is still seen as peasant food because it is cheap and readily available (and doesn’t taste great if it’s simply boiled). But once it’s been through the fermentation process – certain health benefits are enhanced and it becomes a more refined accompaniment to a lot of foods. Don’t get us wrong, Kimchi and Saurkraut are both acquired tastes – the intense acidic flavour of pickled cabbage can be too much for some but if you know how to pair it with the right things your gut will thank you later.
Unlike other pickles which require loads of vinegar, the special thing about cabbage is that it comes already loaded with it’s own activating bacteria. Live cultures are naturally occurring on the outer-leaves so that by simply adding salt and controlling the temperature the Lactobacillus Bacteria (the same guys cultivated in fermented milk drinks and yoghurt) are allowed to thrive and begin to break down the sugars in the cabbage – converting them into lactic acid. The end result is a fermented pickle complete with a bevy of probiotic bacteria that promote a healthy intestinal environment – where essential vitamins and minerals are more effectively absorbed. A healthy gut means improved digestion and in turn, increased immunity.
Along with the good bacteria cabbage is rich in dietary fibre and an average serve contains more than half your daily vitamin C.
Saurkraut is probably the simpler of the two usually only containing one or two vegetables and a few spices, like fennel seeds or carraway. Kimchi is traditionally made with Napa cabbage and has the added dimension of chilli (which lends it that distinctive orange colour). It usually features onion and daikon with fresh ginger and garlic. Kimchi is a permanent fixture of dinner tables in Korea and is served with most meals – taking the place of a salad or a condiment.